USFS Logo Administering the National Forests of Colorado:
An Assessment of the Architectural and Cultural Significance of Historical Administrative Properties
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The history of Forest Service development and activities continues to be a popular subject of research in both academic journals and books. With the recent 1991 centennial, reflections on and interpretations of how the Service developed, its impact on conservation activities, and its role in influencing the perception of public land use proliferated in academic essays. This document relies upon much of this work in order to establish a framework for the primary source material used to evaluate the significance of building construction in the Colorado Forests. The approach taken here is that an assessment of the architectural and cultural significance of historic properties is based upon recognition of an appropriate historic context within which a site's creation and function can be interpreted.

This section establishes a context in which to couch the development of construction in Region 2. It is not an attempt to revise or re-interpret the history of this Region. The reader is advised to consult those secondary references cited herein for that history. The liberal use of quotations from primary source materials is intended to provide the reader with perspectives on Service activities, policies, and field operations as they were perceived and experienced by those persons contemporaneous with the construction and use of the buildings that constitute the focus of this research. Correspondence from district, regional, and national Forest Service personnel provides an understanding of the design and construction process, and at a larger scale, a record of the development of the Region's own architectural style.

Price (1991) considers the first half of the 20th century the "custodial period," a time in which "principles of sustained-yield forestry" prevailed. Building construction during the Service's first several decades was steady until the Depression when, with assistance from various New Deal programs, the Forest Service expanded its construction projects. Substantial amounts of administrative building construction took place prior to World War II. The majority of buildings investigated for this project were built during this period. Administrative building construction did not become a priority again until the mid to late 1950s. This historical overview is divided into three main components: (1) the initiation and early development of the Forest Service up to about 1930; (2) the Depression to World War II; and (3) the impact of the war and postwar developments into the 1950s.

Early Development and Administration of Colorado Forests

The American Forestry Association, established in 1875 via a resolution supporting timber conservation by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, urged Congressmen to establish a national forest policy. The result of studies by the Department of Agriculture resulted in the creation of the Division of Forestry in 1881. In 1891 the Forest Reserve Act, a bill that repealed the Timber Culture Act of 1873, was passed. Prior to the end of President Harrison's administration in 1873, five forest reserves had been established in Colorado, the White River, Battlement Mesa, Pikes Peak Timber Land, Plum Creek Timber Land, and the South Platte. Of these reserves, the last three were established primarily for watershed protection. Timber harvesting and sawmills, cattle grazing, and the construction of the South Park and Pacific Railroad combined to jeopardize the drainage system in a part of Colorado that had a high population density relative to the rest of the state. The conservation intent of the forest reserves largely failed, however. Timber cutting and overgrazing continued mostly unchecked through the turn of the century. Rangers were often disliked by the local communities, in part because most were from the east but also because they were rarely effective in protecting the reserves from fire (Dana 1956:81-84, 100-107; McCarthy 1976).

The year after the Organic Act of 1897 was passed, authorizing an administrative system for the Division of Forestry, Gifford Pinchot became its leader. That year, eleven Districts were established. The headquarters for Colorado and Utah was located in Denver with W.T.S. May as "Superintendent."

Each District was divided into supervisor districts, and each reserve divided into ranger subdivisions. Rangers were generally furloughed for the winter (e.g., Cayton 1925). Supervisors were demoted to rangers for the winter and occassionally also furloughed. Rangers often lacked basic neccessities. "At this time practically no tools were furnished the rangers, there not being more than six shovels and six axes on the whole Battlement Forest Reserve, these being about the extent of the tools furnished for all of the rangers" (Cayton 1925:3-4).

The commitment required, the difficulty of the assignment, and the understanding of resource protection needed by these early rangers was acknowledged within the Service's first two decades. Fred Agee, Forest Supervisor of the Cochetopa, wrote:

Probably the most important qualification in those days, more important than past experience, more important perhaps than basic education, and more important than knowledge of technique, was native ability in the individual, ability of the individual to go ahead with meagre instructions, without guide or precedent, and work out the numerous problems confronting him and get things done. Those were the unorganized pioneer days of the Service and probably no one thing did more to overcome the then chaotic conditions and put the Service on its feet than this quality so common in the individual (Agee 1924).

In 1905, when the United States Forest Service was formalized, fifteen reserves had been established in District No. 2 (Region 2), six of which were in Colorado. Two years later, when the designation of National Forest replaced that of Reserve, sixteen forests were delineated in the state. Arguments supporting the creation of forests in southern and western Colorado centered on watershed protection. Following severe water shortages during the summers of 1880 and 1889, irrigation farmers and some cattlemen supported the protection of forests at the heads of streams forming in the mountains. For example, in 1903 Louis Paquin, a rancher near Mancos initiated a petition that was forwarded to the Bureau of Forestry requesting a reserve be established to help protect farms and ranches from an anticipated water shortage. The result of this action was the withdrawal of over 760 thousand acres the summer of that year. Two years later this land was designated the Montezuma National Forest (Reini 1931:28). However, Colorado soon became recognized as a "hotbed" of opposition to Forests by cattlemen who favored preservation of the unrestricted grazing privileges they had enjoyed up to this point (Hinton 1988:111-22). As Reini (1931:30) notes "... the forests are so closely interwoven with the story of mining and grazing of our state that it is very difficult to separate them."

An extensive administrative reorganization of the Forest Service, resulting in the present regional organization, took place in 1908 (Shoemaker 1944:183; Dana 1956:393). In Inspection District No. 2 (Region 2) six field headquarters under the direction of a district forester were established that year. The headquarters remained in Denver. That year reconfiguration and consolidation of the forests in District No. 2 resulted in many of the named forests that exist today (Figure 2). Appendix A provides an overview of the administrative and geographic development of the Forests in Colorado to 1950.

Figure 2. Development of Colorado National Forest System through 1911. Adapted from Reini (1931). (click on image for a PDF version)

In 1907 the Department of Agriculture published a booklet entitled The Use of the National Forests by Gifford Pinchot. The intent of this document was "to explain just what they [Forests] mean, what they are for, and how to use them" (Pinchot 1907:5). Pinchot (1907:26) described the internal organization of the forests thus:

The Supervisor has direct charge of all the business. His office is located at some town convenient to the users. The Rangers are his field force. They live at central points throughout the Forests and carry out the business on the ground.

Prior to that time many of the supervisors' headquarters in District No. 2 were located at the rear of the residences. Gradually headquarters were established at local banks or post offices (Hinton 1988:III-33). Some rangers, residents of the districts or forest to which they applied, worked out of their ranches for the duration of their careers (e.g., Al Hoffman in Hinton 1988:III-28). As J.H. Ratliff, eventually Forest Supervisor of the Routt, noted in 1906, "I furnished my own horses, paid my own expenses, left my wife to run the ranch and started to ride. I had about twenty-five arguments aday and lost about half of them." A short time later Ratliff was directed to take the Ranger examination. He was then formally appointed a "Forest Guard" and paid $720 per year (Ratliff 1948).

Early ranger stations were often one-room log cabins with a dirt roof, but sometimes only a tent (Cayton 1925:3; Philips 1910). Tibo Gallegos, a ranger on the Cochetopa Forest, used a tent as headquarters from September of 1906 till the spring of 1908, at which time a cabin for him, his wife, and two children was completed (Hinton 1988:III-31). Early dwellings were small and functional; for example, an early residence for a ranger and his family on the Montezuma National Forest was described as "a 2 room log house, log stable 16 x 24, a 100 barrel cistern, and an eighty acre pasture. The house is small, and not altogether satisfactory" (U.S. Forest Service 1911:17). Adequate housing for rangers in Colorado was a common problem for the Service.

H.K. Porter, Forest Supervisor for the Uncompahgre National Forest, wrote to Chief Forester Clyde Leavitt in 1908 recommending that a "community location . . . for several rangers" be established for each district. Rangers at these "stations" would have the "responsibility for the farming of this ranch and the distribution of the feed . . . barns and storage of all features that could be used advantageously in common . ..." Porter reasoned that this "station" idea would be economical for the subsistence of the ranger and for telephone costs and rent, that an "office" could be a part of the establishment to "meet all the needs of the users of the range," and that someone would consistently occupy the site. He also acknowledged that to get "a good class of men" with families they would need to have access to "good schools." Leavitt (1908) answered that "with regard to year-long Ranger Stations [you] are exactly right and that we should work toward that idea just as rapidly as we possibly can." These intentions were evident in The Use Book published that year, a handbook for rangers outlining their duties and the philosophy under which they were to be executed (Pinchot 1908):

Eventually all the rangers who serve the year round will be furnished with comfortable headquarters. It is the intention of the Forest Service to erect the necessary buildings as rapidly as funds will permit. Usually they should be built of logs with shingle or shake roofs (p. 179).

The Forest Supervisor for the Montezuma National Forest, Ress Philips analyzed his needs for Ranger Stations the following year. He recommended one station per 20,000 acres.

For the proper administration of the grazing on this Forest, two kinds of stations are necessary; permanent quarters where District Rangers will locate the year round, and summer camps in the high country, which will provide temporary quarters for rangers during the summer grazing period (Philips 1909).

The kinds of uses the Forest was being subjected to largely determined the general location of ranger stations. For example, Philips (1910:6) asked for a "one room log cabin, with a floor and good shingle roof" for the North Mesa Station on the Montezuma Forest because, "It will be impractible for a ranger to supervise a [timber] sale from another station, on account of the deep canons which separate it from the Norwood Station." Likewise he requested a ranger station be located in the town of Telluride "since the work consists principally of the examination of mining claims and Telluride is the center of operations" (Philips 1910:7). The mobility of rangers was also a consideration in the placement of cabins. Philips rationale for cabin construction at Alta Park Station exemplifies the needs and constraints of this period in Colorado;

This is necessary for effective fire patrol, and is also of considerable value as a camping place when crossing the country. The house should be of two rooms, 14 x 24 feet. It should be built of logs, peeled but not hewn, with shake or shingle roof. The cabin must be very strongly built to hold the unusually heavy snows which fall in the winter. The total cost should not exceed $250.00, since the necessary timber is near the building site (Philips 1910:3).

Some rangers were less enthusiastic about building construction in their Districts. Ranger Loring, San Juan National Forest, voiced his opinion at a Regional Rangers Meeting in 1921,

As for cabins, I am afraid of a stove. Birch tents will turn two feet of snow as easily as two inches of rain. I don't need any cabin, stove, pasture, or minor. I don't want any pastures scattered over my District. I want the country to remain as it is (Loring 1921).

Fire Supression

Fire protection was a responsiblity that was taken seriously yet often reluctantly by some rangers. Prior to manmade lookout towers, designated mountain peaks were selected as lookouts during the dry season. Many of the forest lookouts prior to 1909 were constructed without specified funding. P.S. Lovejoy, supervisor of the Medicine Bow National Forest, initiated a district supervisor meeting to designate a peak lookout for every million acres of forests. The consolidation of forests into larger administrative units after 1905 was made possible, in part, by the strategic positioning of lookout stations (Reini 1931:IV). Fires were widespread and the cause of great destruction in 1889, 1910, 1919, and 1926 (Reini 1931:84).

Theodore Shoemaker (1911), in a document assessing the need for lookouts, emphasized that

First, . . . the forests must be made accessible, and second, means of instant discovery and accurate direction of men to the fire must be provided. It is for this latter purpose that look-out stations are apt to prove most valuable.

He states that others often assume that the higher the position of the lookout the more effective it is, but

this is decidedly not the case. The station must be so located as to allow the observer to see in detail large timbered areas. It is not sufficient for him to see a smoke. ... it is not a question of how far we can see, but how well we can see.... Generally speaking, then, the lookout points will not be high, rarely but little above timber line.

Shoemaker warns that rangers will initially be equipped with only a tent, a telephone, field glasses, compass and maps, and basic drafting equipment. Loneliness and the monotonous viewing will limit the work to a "few men" who "are capable of doing the work" and fewer who are "willing to undertake it." The public use of buildings constructed for fire protection was permitted, at least in the early part of the century (Riley 1915 cited in Price 1991:60).

By 1911 the Weeks Law established cooperative activities in forest fire protection between Federal management and states (reinforced by the Clarke-McNary Act of 1924) (Dana 1956:183-184, 221-223; Steen 1976:130, 173). Within twenty years it was estimated that 75 percent of Colorado fires were the result of human activities and, "Every able-bodied man living in or near the national forests is listed in his most useful capacity in the local cooperative fire-protection organization under a definite agreement with the Forest Service" (U.S. Forest Service 1928:3).

Permanent Improvements

Following the removal of Pinchot in January of 1910 by President Taft, Henry S. Graves, Pinchot's successor and a professional forester from Yale, released The Report of the Forester for 1911 (1912) in which he describes the purpose and intent of "Permanent Improvements":

The purpose of the construction of permanent improvements on National Forests is to facilitate (1) protection from fire, (2) the administration of the business of the Forests, and (3) the development of their resources . . . The administration of the Forests requires the construction of quarters for field offices and facilities needed in the regulation of the use of forest resources . . .

Transportation and fieldwork was conducted primarily by horseback far into the 1920s. James Cayton (1925:3) notes that it was an "unwritten rule among rangers these early days that twenty miles was a good day's ride and if at the first start of one's career as a ranger he overlooked this point, it was not long until his behavior in this respect was perfect." T.J. Watkins, Ranger for the Ouray Division of the Uncompahgre Forest Reserve in 1907 reported that it took approximately twenty days "by saddle and pack horse" to inspect his territory (Watkins 1937:21). Therefore, there were many "administrative sites" scattered throughout the Forests where Rangers would routinely camp and conduct official business. On the Montezuma, for example, there were fifty-one "stations" in 1909 (Philips 1909).

From 1910 to 1929 forest boundaries in District 2 were adjusted dramatically, in part due to intensification of management and recreational demands on Forest Service lands (Figure 3, and Appendix A). While the numbers of cattle grazed on Forest Service lands remained relatively constant during this period, the numbers of sheep grazed increased dramatically (Figure 4). The management role of the Forest Service became increasingly popular, even among cattlemen on the Western Slope. J.D. Dillard, a rancher near Delta for twenty-three years, wrote in 1912,

The more I found out about conservation the bigger it got in my estimation, so today I am perfectly enthused. It has changed my politics and mind in general. . . . Give me Teddie back in the White House and Pinchot back for the Chief Forester and I'll send my children through high school and maybe to college. Yes, if it had not been for Teddie we would not have had forest reserves. . . . All the timber in the West would have been stolen if he had not put a damper on the timber thieves (Dillard 1912).

Figure 3. Development of Colorado National Forest System through 1930. Adapted from Reini (1931). (click on image for a PDF version)

Figure 4. Sheep and Cattle Grazing in the National Forests of Colorado: 1910-1926. Data from various years compiled in the Year Book of Colorado. (click on image for a PDF version)

The Forest Service cultivated this support by consciously working to integrate its employees into the community and by constructing buildings which appeared professional yet amiable. With the passage of the Organic Act in 1897 the opportunity to use Forests as public lands for recreational purposes was recognized (Wengert et al. 1979:43-44). And in 1915 Congress authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to issue permits to persons or associations for the construction and use of recreational structures (Dana 1956:188). But it wasn't until mobility was enhanced by the increased access to automobiles, the development of roads and trails, as well as increased leisure time, that the need for recreation management by the Forest Service was realized. The Highway Act of 1921 established separate appropriations for roads important to forest access. And in the same year modest appropriations were made by Congress to improve public campgrounds (Dana 1956:187).

At a meeting of Forest Supervisors in Denver during the early winter of 1917 Theodore Shoemaker, Supervisor of the Pike, presented an eloquent statement about the need for "improvements" of a "permanent nature" on Forests that would enhance their recreational assets.

The tide has just set in, and people from all over the country are coming in increased numbers to claim the use of their property. ... Here in these wonderlands over which we exercise our stewardship, is that which will bring to all classes of humanity inspiration, and that broader outlook on life for the lack of which those millions who are shut up in our cities or doomed to spend their lives in the ugly, monotonous waste places of the earth, are living and dying in hopelessness; for the lack of which men's souls grow shrunken and warped and their capacity for enjoyment and usefullness is narrowed to the slenderest thread (Shoemaker 1917).

Shoemaker acknowledged that non-governmental funding and entrepeneurial undertakings must fill the need for hotels and rental cabins, but he also emphasized that the Forest Service was in a position to encourage these developments as well as regulate them. Within the next two years the Forest Service developed the first recreational plan for the San Isabel National Forest, authored by Arthur Carhart, the region's first "Recreational Engineer." By 1930 Reini (1931:108) anticipated that Colorado "national forests will become the playground for America."

The advent of World War I had several impacts on administration of the Forests. A total of 42,898 men from Colorado served in military units during the war (Year Book of Colorado 1927). Chief Forester Henry S. Graves, in a policy statement directed to the District 2 Forester (1918:2-3) wrote that at the beginning of the war "it was necessary to release a large number of men for the forest regiments. To do this we doubled up the work on some of those who were left behind. One or two men carried the work where two or three men had been busy before." However, by 1918 Graves saw a need to rally those remaining employees to remain with the Forest Service even in the face of social pressure and "consequent embarrassment." Not knowing of the impending armistice he asked the employee to "be alert at his work and . . . be ready to stay or go as the necessities may require." Adminstrative development was sharply curtailed while the Forest Service focused its efforts on extracting resources for war use.

By the late 1920's the placement of ranger stations and forest headquarters was a topic of codified regulation. For example, the July 1928 amendments to The National Forest Manual - Regulations and Instructions (p. 63-A) authorized that up to $2,200 per year could be used to purchase land for headquarters or ranger stations "where no suitable Government lands are available." These regulations also stipulated the conditions under which employees were to be offered housing assistance.

Only where there is an undeniable need for them and when it is impractible for the officer to rent his own living quarters will houses be constructed at Government expense on either Government or leased land.

The lease or rent of dwellings for employees was construed "as granting additional compensation" and was prohibited. The regulations did permit offices to be provided to District rangers, but they "should be apart from their dwellings when practicable." Although government-owned or leased dwellings were not permitted, barns or garages were to be provided whenever the "superior officer" deemed the use of "horses or a car" essential for official work to be accomplished. Building construction on leased land was conditional upon the "structure being of such a nature that it could be moved either intact or by taking them down and putting them up again elsewhere."

By 1931 amendments to the same manual emphasized fire control "improvements" in "preference over other classes." Of primary urgency were telephone lines with

Lookout structures, firemen's cabins, and pastures for the horses of firemen . . . of next importance. . . . As urgently needed fire-control improvments are completed, it will be possible to devote a larger portion of improvement money to buildings and miscellaneous improvements needed at ranger district headquarters (U.S. Forest Service 1931: October Amendment).

1930 to World War II: Administrative Response to the Great Depression

In the late 1920s the economy of Colorado was primarily agricultural, even though manufacturing was higher valued in terms of output. The state ranked sixth in the nation in terms of acreage devoted to National Forests and fifth in National Parks. At the end of the decade tourism in the state was up 18 percent over normal for that period (Waldman 1981:60-61).

The effect of the October 1929 stock market plunge was somewhat delayed in non-industrial states like Colorado. However, within the next two years 25 percent of the banks in the state had closed. Agriculture and animal husbandry markets plummeted to the extent that it cost more in production than the markets could support in return. The infamous drought of the 1930s affected the farms and ranches on the eastern slope the most severely. By the winter of 1932-33 Coloradans dependent on the agricultural related economy were extremely stressed and actively protesting state government policies (Wickens 1969). The businessmen of Colorado responded to the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt with optimism. But within three years they were hostile towards Roosevelt's New Deal programs (Patterson 1969; Sims 1970:27, 45-51).

Colorado unemployment was highest in 1932 and 1933 at 23.6 and 24.9 percent respectively (Sims 1970:87). Colorado's mean per capita income decreased thirty-nine percent between 1929 and 1932 (Arrington 1969:313). During discussions in the U.S. Senate regarding unemployment, consideration of reforestation as a source ofjobs was brought forth. The result was a congressional resolution, introduced by Senator Roy Copeland (New York) calling for a plan to improve the management of forested lands (Steen 1976:200-201). The 1933 "Copeland Report" proposed by the Forest Service recommended substantial extension of public ownership of forested land (Hinton 1988:V-3-4).

Soon after the election of 1932 Roosevelt sought authorization to purchase public lands. The first three years of the New Deal saw forest land purchase appropriations become 76 percent greater than all of that appropriated between 1911 and 1932 (Dana 1956:250). By the beginning of U.S. participation in World War II Region 2 had acquired over 182,000 acres (Hinton 1988:V-4-5).

By Executive Order No. 6101 Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps in April of 1933. The need for massive acquisition of land was linked closely to the needed success of the CCC. Employment on public property, especially forested lands, was a cornerstone of Roosevelt's socioeconomic policies and the CCC (officially known as the Emergency Conservation Work [ECW] agency until 1937), the first of several unemployment relief agencies (Salmond 1967:26, 147-148; Steen 1976:216-217).

Roosevelt intended that 1300 camps be operationalized by July 1 of that year. It was soon realized that the Department of the Army was to play a major role in the actualization of the ECW. Agencies of the Department of Agriculture and Interior were responsible for the work projects conducted by these 18- to 25-year-old men.

The Army command, administratively centralized in Washington, D.C., was organized into a more decentralized, geographically based, nine-Corps-area system. Within each Corps were Districts, sub-districts (usually numbered in single digits), and camps. Colorado was one of five states in the Eighth Corps, administered out of Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. The state of Colorado was its own District from April of 1933 to August of 1935. Colorado was later split into two Districts, recombined in 1937, and finally combined with that of Wyoming to form the "Colorado-Wyoming District" in December of that same year. This District was the largest in the U.S. with fifty camps (Parham 1981:18-21, 28). The Commander of the District also served as the principal authority for management of the camps.

In the summer of 1933 twenty-nine camps were established in Colorado. By the last year of CCC operations the state had forty-two camps. The largest number of camps was under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service. Between 1933 and 1936 an average of 11 camps were situated on Forests for each "Period."

Recruitment regulations were a responsiblity of the Department of Labor. With no time or funding to establish a federal recruitment organization the Department used existing state agencies wherever possible. In Colorado the Official Colorado State Relief Committee (1933-36) (later named the Colorado State Relief Commission) coordinated county departments of public welfare in the selection of young men from families registered on the relief rolls of the county. This relief roll requirement was waived in 1940. Recruits were called "junior enrollees" (Salmond 1967; Parham 1981:34-35). Thomas Ruch (1935:31), a foreman at camp F-17-W, Chimney Park, Wyoming, wrote in 1935:

The CCC takes a pretty raw product from the streets and poolhalls where some would turn out to be barflies, gamblers, and petty criminals, and makes of a majority of them, well-trained workmen fitted for the industrial life of a nation. Many of these men go out capable of handling a gang of workmen efficiently on any job requiring manual labor. Some learn the use of carpenter tools; others, welding . . . almost any kind of skilled work that may come up in general public life.

In 1936, prior to the Colorado State Department of Public Welfare handling the task of recruitment, the Works Progress Administration had been the responsible agency. Quotas were established for each state by the Department of Labor that were based on a proportion of the population of the state (cf. Pinto 1981:110-111). Parham (1981:41) states that over seventy-five percent of all CCC men "were either natives or long time residents" of Colorado (also McCarthy 1981:5). Data for those CCC enrollees at camps on Forest Service lands in 1939 tend to substantiate this assertion (Table 1). Much of the work conducted in the Forests was accomplished by local men familiar with the environment.

Table 1. CCC Camp Enrollee Composition for National Forests in Colorado 1939*.

Forest Camp # Sub-
Local Camp Name Enrollees & State of Origin
San Isabel F-59 7 812 San Isabel 25 Colo/ 134 Okla/ 2 Tex
Arapaho F-63 4 829 Idaho Springs 82 Colo/ 31 Okla/ 17 Tex
Pike F-64 7 1819 Woodland Park 169 Colo/ 1 Okla/ 1 Tex
Holy Cross F-65 5 1842 Glenwood Springs 28 Colo/ 142 Okla/ 2 Tex
Montezuma F-53 8 2118 Lone Dome 4 Colo/ 13 Conn/ 1 Maine/ 41 Mass/ 1 Tex
Pike F-60 7 2124 Monument 1 Conn/ 57 Mass/ 1 NH/ 21 RI/ 1 Tex
San Isabel F-46 7 2134 Gardner 32 Conn/ 13 Mass/ 3 NM/ 1 Colo/ 10 RI/ 1 Okla
Rio Grande F-49 8 2135 South Fork 2 Colo/ 18 Conn/ 44 Mass/ 23 RI/ 1 Tex
Roosevelt F-50 3 2/05 Redfeather Lakes 104 Colo/ 10 Okla/ 1 (?)/ 1 Wyo
Roosevelt F-61 3 3808 Poudre valley 144 Colo/ 2 Okla/ 27 Tex

* Adapted from "Location and Strength of Civilian Conservation Corp Projects and WPA Companies in the Eighth Corps Area on December 31, 1939" (Federal Records Center, RG-095-54A-02 10, Denver, Colorado.)

An important supplement to these quotas was that of LEM (local experienced man). As many as eight LEMs were assigned to each camp. Salmond (1967:34) considers this dimension of the CCC "vital to the initial success of the whole CCC venture." These skilled men, recruited under regulations prescribed by the Department of Labor, served as technical foremen for projects.

An LEM is a man experienced in work in the woods and the field whose selection has been delegated by the Department of Labor to the technical agency in charge of a project employing a junior work company, free from restriction as to his age, marital status or willingness to allot part of his pay, but who may not be employed outside the state in which he is a resident (Persons 1935:2).

Selection of LEMs in Forest Service camps was the responsiblity of the "Supervisor of the Forest in which the particular camp is located" (Kouns 1937). LEMs played a significant role in building construction projects, where knowledge of a variety of trades was essential. The success of many of these projects was, to a great extent, due to the experience and oversight of the LEMs.

Many LEMs did not perceive their CCC employment as a long term committment. Regional Forester Allen Peck, in considering his CCC needs for the Second Period (1933-34) wrote of LEMs, "My impression has been that these men are figuring pretty strongly on going back home at the end of the first enrollment period, and a number have already gone AWOL" (Peck 1933a:1).

Early in its conception, wage scales for LEMs were a subject of contention between the Forest Service and the Bureau of the Budget. The Director of the Bureau of the Budget considered LEMs too numerous and too highly paid (Salmond 1967:38). On September 30, 1937, the LEM classification was terminated and all current LEMs were to be discharged. However, any LEM could re-enroll as a "Junior" on condition that he was a military veteran or was less than 25 years of age, unmarried, and not having served more than 18 months in the CCC (Dalbey 1937; Adjutant Generals Office, War Department 1937).

Region 2 Forest Service Inspectors made regular visits to CCC projects throughout the state. The Forest Supervisors and District Rangers were responsible for all CCC work within their boundaries, assisted primarily by project superintendents for the camps. Personnel for technical services were hired by the Forest Supervisors, usually upon the recommendation of the District Ranger (Hutton 1936b; Gleyre and Alleger 1936:148; Parham 1981:44, 46).

Camps varied from "year-round" to "summer" occupations. These camp locations were normally selected by the Forest Supervisor on condition that they be examined and approved by the Army (Peck 1933a:2). Request for the establishment of a camp by the Forest Service was formalized with a single two-page form, stipulating where the camp was to be situated in relation to the nearest railroad, condition of roads, proximity to other current or abandoned CCC camps, estimated maximum travel miles to project sites, and brief description of work to be accomplished (Webber 1940).

A full "company" totaled 200 men, with the number of companies in each district varying seasonally. The drought in the spring and summer of 1934 also fostered an increase in authorization for companies. Several companies lived in tent camps at high altitudes within the Forests during the summer and were moved to more southern states during the winter. For example, Company 859 occupied camp F-7-C near Dillon during the First Period and moved to Camp F-5-O at Cache, Oklahoma, on November 15, 1933. The following spring (June 1, 1934) the Company returned to Colorado to Camp F-8-C near Tabernash, returning to Cache, Oklahoma, in October (Gleyre and Alleger 1936:14-15).

In consultation with the Army, the Regional Forester would determine what camps to abandon for the winter and when, usually sometime between mid-October and December 1. Some camps were occupied throughout the winter that first year. For example, in August of 1933 Allen S. Peck, Regional Forester, provided a list of the camps in Colorado to the Army in which their elevation and date of abandonment was established (Peck 1933b; Granger 1934). Of the 23 camps in the Forests that year Camp F-17-C at Land's End, F-24-C at Trout Creek, and F-30-C at Conejos Alamosa were the only ones not to be closed for the winter. Peck (1933a:1) stated in a memorandum to the Chief Forester that "A great many men have already expressed a desire to continue throughout the winter, and in some cases this involves almost a complete camp" (winter camp example shown in Figure 5). However, he cautioned:

Just how effective winter work will be in the camps which I am suggesting is, of course, a question which can only be determined by experience, and depends largely upon what kind of winter weather we have. I am not even sure that we can work effectively at some of our present camps as late as the dates listed in the accompaning reports for evacuation. . . . Fear of snow and cold weather is not at all unlikely to stampede a great may of the men, particularly those from Texas and Oklahoma, at the first approach of storms in October or even September (Peck 1933a:3).

Figure 5. Construction at Mesa Lakes with Emergency Relief Administration (ERA) Camp. Photo# 398193 taken February 1940 by H.P. Gaylor. GMUG National Forests Supervisor's Office. Note garage enclosed by tent.

Side or "fly" camps were an important part of the CCC work organization. These temporary camps consisting of a subset of men from a base camp were situated so as to be at or in proximity to a project site. Although variable, the average size of the crews working at side camps in Colorado was 25. Personnel with specialized skills appropriate to the project were often assigned to that camp. For example the side camp located at the Buckhorn Ranger Station on the Roosevelt National Forest was focused on carpentry and the construction of buildings (Otis et al. 1986:23; Figure 51, Roosevelt National Forest). Fred Morrell, Assistant Chief of the Forest Service, pointed out to the Region 2 Forester in 1938 that

What we are really striving to do in side camp policy is to have it flexible enough to enable the completion of the work within a given area so that the whole will be effective. For example, we may have a truck trail or telephone line, the major portion of which can be accomplished from a main camp, but completion requires a side camp (Morrell 1938).

Within days after Roosevelt authorized the CCC, projects were being organized by Forests, proposed crews were being developed, and camp supplies and tools were being acquired and moved to work locations. For example, on April 6, 1933, Lewis Rist, Forest Supervisor of the White River National Forest, authorized work assignments and supply lists for six crews to work on as many Districts within the Forest. The Burro Mountain District crew (#2), with a proposed strength of 75 men, was to work on a number of projects from June 1 to September 30 at several sites, such projects including weed eradication and reseeding at Miller Creek and corral construction at the Bar H-L (Figures 158, 174, White River National Forest), with supervision to come from District Ranger Ericson. Supply lists for these tasks were very detailed and marked "confidential" (Rist 1933).

The specific goal of the Colorado CCC camps was to carry out programs of conservation, forestation, and reforestation through the control of fire, insects, and disease. In addition, they also constructed and maintained buildings (Figure 6). Gleyre and Alleger (1936:149) state that between 1933 and 1936 the CCC built 27 "dwellings, offices, lookouts, warehouses, barns, and garages" in Colorado Forests. And maintenance work was conducted on 121 other structures. Maintenance activities ranged from painting the trim of a ranger station to complete rehabilitation of a building. For example, Ranger C.D. Clark (1935:12), of the Gunnison National Forest wrote:

The Pitkin Ranger Station barn was in such condition as to need the roof jacked up and a new building put under it. This was virtually done. A competent carpenter was selected from the enrollees and given the needed helpers. The old barn was torn down, salvaging the roof materials, which had been put on only a few years previous. A good concrete foundation was laid, and a building 24' x 44' was erected, partitioned off to serve the purposes of barn, garage, machine shed, tool shed, and shop. We think it is far preferable, especially in this location to have several smaller buildings, each serving its own purpose.

Figure 6. Square Top Guard Station. Photo# 315592 taken December 1935 by A. L. Alley. San Juan National Forest Supervisor's Office.

Many of the structures and sites documented for this project were either built or maintained by CCC crews. Table 2 lists associated sites, buildings, and camps.

Table 2. CCC-era sites and Known New Deal Agency Involvement.

FOREST Site Name Camp Number
& Name
Side Camp Constructed
RIO GRANDE Brewery Guard Station

RIO GRANDE Bristol View WC F-49-C side camp "A"
RIO GRANDE Creede District Office F-49-C Monte Vista Side Camp X
RIO GRANDE Del Norte District Office

RIO GRANDE Monte Viste Sup.'s Residence F-49-C
RIO GRANDE Saquache District Office

RIO GRANDE Seepage Creek Site

RIO GRANDE South Fork Guard Station F-49-C
Monte Vista

WHITE RIVER Site 100-Aspen F-65-C Basalt Side Camp

WHITE RIVER Site 310-Basalt F-51-C
Norrie Side Camp
Glenwood and Basalt Side Camp

WHITE RIVER Site 210-Buford

WHITE RIVER California Park

WHITE RIVER Site 300-Carbondale F-65-C
Glenwood Springs

WHITE RIVER Site 400-Eagle F-68-C
Yoeman Park
Glenwood Springs

WHITE RIVER Site 610-Glenwood Garage

WHITE RIVER Site 350-Lilly Lake

WHITE RIVER Site 220-Lost Creek

WHITE RIVER Meadow Mountain

WHITE RIVER Site 320-Meridith/Norrie F-51-C
Glenwood Springs
Norrie Side Camp

Glenwood Springs

WHITE RIVER Notch Mountain Shelter F-15-C

WHITE RIVER Piney Guard Station

WHITE RIVER Seedhouse Guard Station

WHITE RIVER Slate Creek F-7-C

WHITE RIVER Site 430-Sweetwater

WHITE RIVER Tigiwon Community Bldg F-15-C

ROUTT Kremmling Ranger station F-63-C
ROUTT Michigan River Guard Station

ROUTT Pyramid Guard Station

ROUTT Seedhouse Toilet campground by CCC

ROUTT Steamboat Springs Site II

ROUTT Yampa District Office

SAN ISABEL Pueblo Sup.'s Office


SAN ISABEL Buena Vista F-24-C
Trout Creek

SAN ISABEL Alvarado F-59-C



PIKE Bailey WC

PIKE Buena Vista Barn Site

PIKE Buffalo Creek wC

PIKE Fairplay WC ERA labor
PIKE Monument WC/Nursery & Residence F-33-C

PIKE Weber Street ERA & CCC
SAN JUAN Animas District Office SP-16-C

SAN JUAN Aspen Guard Station F-53-C
Aspen Side Camp
assembled on

SAN JUAN Benchmark LO

SAN JUAN Bayfield F-74-C

SAN JUAN Dolores Ranger Station SP-16-C
Lone Dome

SAN JUAN Dunton Guard Station F-53-C
Lone Dome

Dunton Side Camp
assembled on

SAN JUAN Durango - 7th Avenue F-53-C
Durango Side Camp

SAN JUAN Durango - 8th Avenue F-53-C?
Durango Side Camp

SAN JUAN Eight Mile LO SP-16-C

SAN JUAN Glade Guard Station F-53-C

SAN JUAN Jersey Jim Lookout F-53-C Dunton Side Camp

SAN ISABEL La Veta Office F-46-C Huerfano Side Camp X
SAN ISABEL Lake Isabel

SAN JUAN Lower Mancos F-53-C
Lone Dome

SAN JUAN Mancos F-53-C
Lone Dome
Mancos Side Camp

SAN JUAN Pagosa F-74-C
Blanco & Durango

SAN JUAN Piedra GS (Bridge RS) F-29-C

SAN JUAN Rico Guard Station F-53-C
Lone Dome

Dunton/Rico Side Camp
assembled on

SAN JUAN Siver Falls GS

SAN JUAN Square Top Guard Station F-29-C
Blanco & Durango

SAN JUAN Treasure Guard Station F-29-C Wolf Creek Side Camp X

SAN JUAN Turkey Springs Guard Station

SAN JUAN Vallecito WC F-74-C

ROOSEVELT Buckhorn WC F-61-C
Side Camps F1 & F2
Buckhorn Side Camp


ROOSEVELT Redfeather WC F-50-C

ROOSEVELT Rollinsville WC F-50-C
Brainard Lake FC
Peaceful Valley

ROOSEVELT Stub Creek WC F-50-C
Stub Creek
Side Camp

ARAPAHO Idaho Springs WC F-63-C

ARAPAHO Miner Street Residence/garage

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Alpine Big Cimarron Camp

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Cement Creek F-53-C

X X?
G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Cold Springs F-48-C

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Collbran District Office

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Crested Butte F-71-C Cement Creek Side Camp

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Hightower F-67-C

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Lands End F-17-C

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Lone Cone F-53-C

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Long Branch

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Mesa Lakes F-67-C
Coon Creek Camp

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Norwood F-48-C

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Tayler Park RS

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Ward Lake F-67-C

G.M., UNC, & GUNNISON Wisconsin Street - Gunnison Foreman McClure oversaw project

Recreation sites were also developed by the CCC. Beginning in early 1934 the new Chief Forester, Ferdinand Silcox, required Regional Foresters to place greater emphasis on the developement of recreational sites and facilities. By 1936, 153 campground toilets had been constructed in Colorado Forests (Gleyre and Alleger 1936:149; Figure 7). "Projects of this kind are most valuable in teaching enrollees trades which will help them make a good hiring after leaving the CCC. The types of work outlined above give opportunity for boys to learn something of carpentry, log construction, plumbing, nursery work, driving trucks, and operating machinery" (Affolter 1940).

Figure 7. CCC Enrollees at Camp F-49-C Constructing Latrines. Photo taken April 1940 by J.C. Higgins. Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor's Office.

Colorado ranked tenth in the nation in per capita expenditures of major New Deal agencies between 1933 and 1939. The state received almost twice the amount in New Deal expenditures during these years than it paid in return (Arrington 1969:315; Sims 1970:119). CCC-related expenditures contributed significantly to this ranking, the most being spent in 1936 and the least during the first full year of operations in 1934. Enrollment in the Colorado CCC was highest in 936 with 9,535 men. By 1940, enrollment was downto 3,248 (Waldman 1981:81-82). In June of 1941 H.D. Cochran, the Assistant Regional Forester, wrote to all Forest Supervisors in Region 2:

CCC enrollment has been seriously affected by competing demands for your men . . . . For example, in Colorado the April quota was 898 but only 272 enrolled. . . . if enrollment is not kept up, further reductions will be made in the camps that are available for doing important work this year for the National Forests of our Region (Cochran 1941).

By June of 1942 nearly all of the CCC camps in the Region were closed (Hinton 1988:VI-1). Despite arguments by the Forest Service to continue at least some CCC operations for fire protection, Congress voted to liquidate the Corps in June of 1942 (Salmond 1967:212-217). By this time only five camps remained in the State: Estes Park, Grand Lake, Montrose, Glenwood Springs, and Mancos (McCarthy 1981:31). By the time of the program's termination, over six million dollars had been expended in Colorado for CCC projects.

Like the rest of the country, Colorado recovered from the Depression because of the effect of the war on demands for goods and services that were available from the state (Sims 1970:119). All nonessential work in the Forests was cut from operations. Greater consolidation and increasing centralization, to save costs, was the philosophy of the Forest Service administation during the war years.

World War II and its Aftermath

Manpower was in short supply during the war. Coupled with a decrease in agency funding and restrictions on supplies, the Service did little in the way of new construction. Maintenance was minimized for all "improvements," especially for buildings and campground facilities (Pomeroy 1946; Year Book of Colorado 1943-44:494). Almost all of the timber products from the Region were directed to the "War effort" (Dana 1956:280-281). H.L. Norris, District Ranger on the San Juan, wrote:

No especially important developements [sic] took place on Engineer District in 1944. The War effort consumed first place of course. The man power shortage restricted all improvement work except the bare necessary maintenance of trails and buildings (Norris 1945).

Beginning in 1943, the idea of consolidating forests to economize scarce funding was discussed. But it wasn't until 1944-42 that actual changes were implemented which are still in existence today (Appendix A). For example, the Cochetopa was eliminated in 1944, with the land distributed between the Gunnison, Rio Grande, and San Isabel. The following year the Holy Cross was merged with the White River, and in 1946 the land defining the Montezuma was distributed between the San Juan and the Uncompahgre. As a result, many District Rangers saw their workload drastically increase with additional land area. Rangers needed full-time assistants and support staff as well as additional equipment. Other stations were closed as the Forest Service reorganized its administrative network to meet the needs of users of the land.

After the war, Region 2 implemented personnel changes that focused on promotion potential and efficiency ratings. Much of this change was fostered by the return of soldiers, many of whom were former Forest Service employees who were taking their option of returning to the Service. The postwar demand for housing resulted in rapid expansion of the business of timber sales. The Service needed additional personnel and new techniques for handling sales.

Recreational planning also began to be a priority. Colorado was especially impacted by the demand for skiing facilities. As Roderick Blacker, District Ranger on the San Juan, noted in 1947:

Recreational use in the vicinity of Pagosa Springs was approximately twice that of any past year. This is attributed largely to the fact that the ending of the war made vacations available once again. The Wolf Creek and East Fork Camp Grounds were filled to capacity a large part of the summer, while the West Fork Area was used mor [sic] extensively than at any time in the past (Blacker 1947).

By the 1950s the Region had phenomenal increases in recreational visits, most notably in the Pike and San Isabel where an increase of 300 percent in visits was observed between 1950 and 1954 (Hinton 1988:VII-16).

As part of its increased administrative needs, the Forests accumulated a number of different kinds of buildings, including some "portable" CCC buildings surplused by the Army. Sites that had once been called "Guard Stations" began to be called "Work Centers" (Kerr 1981; Caywood et al. 1991:63). For example, the Long Branch Ranger Station, constructed in the mid-1920s, came to be considered a "temporary stopping-over place" by 1946, and eventually known as a "Work Center" (Mason 1946).

It wasn't until 1957 that Congress recognized the need for additional recreational improvements and facility construction in the Forests with an appropriation via Operation Outdoors. This five-year program was designed to improve existing facilities and provide new construction (Steen 1976:312; Hinton 1988:VII-18).

By 1960, federal lands located primarily in the Great Plains were declared National Grasslands. The Comanche National Grasslands in southeastern Colorado, as well as the Cimarron National Grassland in southwestern Kansas, were assigned to the San Isabel National Forest. The Pawnee National Grasslands in northeast Colorado became administered by the Roosevelt National Forest.

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2008